Call for higher standards by cross-industry group

The Competence Steering Group (CSG) has called for the creation of a new oversight body to monitor the way competence in construction is assessed.

Set up by the Industry Response Group (IRG) to tackle competency failings identified in the Hackitt Review after the Grenfell Tower fire, The Competence Steering Group (CSG) has published an interim report called Raising the Bar, urging those working on high-risk residential buildings (HRRBs) to adopt a wide ranging set of measures to improve competence.

The report has called for:

  • A new oversight body - the Building Safety Competence Committee - to monitor assessment processes, draw up a central register of dutyholders eligible to work on HRRBs and continually drive improvements across the sector. This recommendation dovetails with proposals set out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in its recent consultation.
  • Government to mandate individuals working on HRRBs to be registered/certified by a recognised professional and/or certified body.
  • All organisations, including professional bodies, carrying out the assessments and reassessments of an individual's competence, should themselves be subject to a rigorous system of oversight by a body such as UKAS or the Engineering Council.
  • The building safety regulator to hold and maintain a register of those qualified to perform the key roles with the advice of the Building Safety Competence Committee. And, additionally, to provide sign-posting to registers which should be held by the professional and trade bodies of those qualified and competent to work on HRRBs.
  • The period of reassessment to be no less than every five years.
  • Common principles of continuing professional development (CPD) to be established for each sector, which the Building Safety Competence Committee should use to hold sectors to account. 
  • Fire safety CPD materials to explain basic fire science to be available to anyone working on HRRBs or managing occupied HRRBs.

The report has also called on government to require that any company or individual working on a central government construction project, including those to retrofit existing HRRBs, must meet the competence frameworks set out within the report. The CSG also urged local authorities and the wider public and private sector to follow suit.

Graham Watts, chief excecutive of the Construction Industry Council and chairman of the CSG, said: "It is clear that industry organisations have accepted the need to change. The working groups are proposing to raise the bar through a more rigorous approach, including training, assessment, reassessment and third-party accreditation. Combined with a new oversight layer, we think adopting our measures will result in a paradigm change to improve competence and industry culture."

The interim report is now open to consultation, ending on 18 October 2019, following which a final report will be issued.

This article first appeared in Construction Manager

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